Friday, October 10, 2008


I don't know where this recipe came from. I just know I've had it for years and always avoided making it because it seemed like duplicated effort make a full batch of chili and then cook it some more, baking it in a casserole with a topping. Finally last Saturday I decided to give it a try--and all I can say is: where have you been all my life? This is simply delicious, the operative concept being "simple." It is a bare-bones chile recipe whose flavor is intensified by a deeply meaty flavor (it uses carmelized cubed beef instead of ground) and a slow, uncovered simmer. I used black beans, which have a much less aggressive character in the mouth than the traditional kidney beans. The topping is just as intensely flavored and has a little crunch when you bite into it. This is a great weekend meal you can set on the stove and forget about until it makes you hungry with its aromas. You'll love it!
For Chili:
Vegetable oil
2 pounds boneless beef chuck or rump, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 large onion, chopped
2 large fresh jalapeno chiles, seeded if desired and finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 tablespoons chili powder
1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes in puree
1 10-oz. box frozen corn .
1 1/2 cups water
1 15-oz. to 16-oz. can pinto or black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup chopped pimiento-stuffed green olives
Salt to taste

For Topping:
I cup all-purpose flour
I cup yellow cornmeal (not coarse)
3 ounces coarsely grated sharp cheddar (3/4 cup)
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 medium fresh jalapeno chile, seeded and finely chopped 3/4 cup milk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Make chili: Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a 5 to 6-quart heavy pot over moderately high heat until shimmering. Pat meat dry with paper towels and sprinkle with salt and pepper. To avoid crowding in the pan, brown beef in 4 batches, allowing cubes to stay in direct contact with the heat, without stirring, 2 to 3 minutes or until it meat well-carmelized. Turn pieces to brown the other side. As batches are done, transfer to a separate bowl. Add oil to pan as necessary. A good, dark fond will form in the bottom of the pot.

Add 1 tablesppon of oil to pot and cook onion and jalapenos over medium heat, stirring, until onions are softened and moisture from them has deglazed the pot. (The onions will take up the color of the meat fond and become dark.) Add garlic and chili powder and cook, stirring, just until fragrant. Return beef to pot with any juices that have accumulated in bowl and stir in tomatoes, corn, and water. Simmer chili, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until meat is very tender, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours.

Remove from heat and stir in beans and olives. Taste for seasoning and add salt if it is needed. Transfer chili to a shallow 3-quart baking dish.

Make topping: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Whisk together flour, cornmeal, cheese, sugar, baking powder, salt, cumin, and jalapeno in a large bowl. Whisk together milk, butter, and egg in a small bowl, then stir into flour mixture until just combined.

Drop batter by large spoonfuls over chili, spacing them evenly, and bake in middle of oven 10 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees and bake pie until topping is cooked through, about 30 minutes more.


Nan said...

Ralph, if I ever get to meet you, we will have to have a delicious simple supper! Your Food Friday photos always bring comfort! They just have the LOOK of comfort food. (And some photos have displayed far more elegance than just "comfort." However, I am equally comfortable in elegance as I am in simplicity ;-) Now if only I could get my cooking mojo back. I am in one of those phases where I am just not cooking!

Ralph said...

What nice things to say, Nan! Thank you. I never really thought about it, but I guess everyday food, which is what I mostly feature here, is comfort food, or at least it ought to be....I'm just realizing that I've never done anything here but dinner dishes. Breakfast and lunch are catch-as-catch-can at our house, throw it together from what you find, everyone for himself. Dinner is the Meal, and it needs to be delicious and "comfortable." Thanks for helping me de-construct my attitude towards this...!

I've been tempted to have a "not cooking" phase but as much as I like carryout and restaurant foods, the pall pretty fast on me, and Steve's not much of a cook, so....

Zoey & Me said...

I was thinking London Broil for our guests Monday night but I'm now switching to this recipe and will serve with lots of corn bread. I usually use sirloin in my other chili recipe, guess it wouldn't make much difference. The texture is more silky and makes for a softer chew. I have all day to decide. Thanks Mr Food Friday, this one looks like another winner.

Ralph said...

Z&M, it's delicious. I added nothing to the recipe, in the end, not even salt. I'll often put vinegar and Worcerstershire in chili, but this didn't need it. Corn bread on the side would be good, but then you don't need the topping, which is corn bread. And you're right about the sirloin. Much softer chew (mushy?) after braising 1½ hours.

Zoey & Me said...

Does it have a strong taste of corn bread? If so, I'll go with the topping for sure and find another side.

Ralph said...

If you look closely at the recipe you'll see the topping is actualkly cornbread. The batter is thick--doesn't spread but goes on in dollops which bake up separately without spreading. Comes out like cornbread biscuits sitting on the chili. Plus, there's corn in the chili. Up to you but I don't think you need more cornbread.

Zoey & Me said...

I served with lots of fruit/wine and everyone loved it. This is definitely a recipe for sour cream. I have some leftover for lunch and will try it topping it with sour cream which I didn't have last night. But it was delicious. Thanks again and the instructions were simple to follow. I had three servings.

Ralph said...

The sour cream is a great idea! Next time I'll do it too. Glad it went over well!